Today’s blog is a bit different…
The news out of Lakeland, Florida concerning the arrest of two young girls in connection with the suicide of a third compels me to write this blog.
With the death of Rebecca Sedwick came the death of her dreams. The death of her hopes, and plans, and thoughts of the future.
We can’t afford to lose anymore children…
Here’s what’s on my heart, today.
Today’s news out of Lakeland, Florida has us asking one simple question…
Where were the parents?
How do two middle school girls wreak such havoc in another girl’s life with no parental intervention?
Why did young girls have such unlimited and unsupervised access to social media apps?
Who knew what was happening and who should have intervened?
What caused such hatred and vitriol?
So many unanswered questions, but all boiled down into that one central unknown…
Where were the parents?
The suicide of Rebecca Sedwick was simply the culmination of a series of unwholesome and unsupervised attacks perpetrated by children. Children who, along with the rest of their generation, have one overriding and easily recognized need… Parent’s who are willing to Be The Parent.
Forget the symptoms that caused this suicide. Forget the social media, the lack of school intervention, the dating relationships of girls so young, this suicide, and the harmful choices of so many other children, boils down to one fundamental lack… The lack of parents who are willing to Be The Parent!
Rebecca Sedwick’s parents and the parents of the accused girls have met at an intersection that never should have existed. They find themselves at a crossroads that forces the examination of their own parenting choices; their willingness to Be The Parent.
Positive, pro-active parenting requires a certain level of hopeful skepticism. According to news reports, the parents of the accused fourteen year old are refusing to show that healthy skeptical doubt. Their immediate response to accusations against their daughter has been indignant refusal to even consider her guilt.
When we, as parents, refuse to acknowledge the possibility of our own child’s wrongdoing, we handicap their ability to take ownership of their actions.
We teach them to avoid responsibility.
We embolden them to continue down a road of entitlement and self-centered destruction.
David’s refusal to acknowledge and confront his son Absolom’s sin, led ultimately to Absolom’s death. Samson’s parents refused to deal with his anger, covetousness, and self-will, and he too, died in disgrace. Refusing to recognize our children’s sinful natures will only cause pain, damage, and disgrace. They need us to Be The Parent!
No, that doesn’t mean that we automatically believe that our children are always in the wrong, but we do leave the door open to investigate that possibility. Pro-active parents choose a response like this:
“I don’t believe my child was involved and I certainly hope she wasn’t. However, we’ll take whatever steps are necessary to find out what happened and IF she was involved, our whole family will help her to take ownership and responsibility for her actions.”
Knowing that their parents will take the time to find out the facts, and then expend the emotional energy needed to deal with the consequences, provides our children strong walls of security. They know they will be held accountable for their choices and therefore, their choices take on deeper importance.
Recognizing our children’s sinful activities takes diligence, prayer, and consistent oversight. Parenting isn’t for sissies! That’s why the scriptures encourage us to, “Not grow weary of well-doing.” (Galatians 6:9)
Interestingly, according to local news outlets in Florida, the accused girls have admitted their guilt. While their parents are refusing to acknowledge that their children had any involvement, when faced with the facts, the girls are recognizing their own culpability.
Rebecca’s parents tried to save their daughter. They were involved and engaged. They spoke to the school. They removed her from the daily stress of the situation. But sadly, they flinched when it came time to take the final, yet necessary step.
According to a quote in the AP, Rebecca’s mother said this, “I just didn’t want to have her not like me, so I wanted to give her access to her cellphone so she could talk to her friends.” Free access for Rebecca led to free access for her tormentors, who continued to bully and threaten her.
Fear of losing her daughter’s friendship led to losing the daughter she loved so desperately.
Sometimes, being the parent means being the bad guy. By virtue of our wisdom, even if only the wisdom acquired by age, there are times that we must make hard choices for the good of our children. There are times that we must face the ugly glares and angry responses of our children in order to rescue them from situations they are not prepared to handle on their own. Situations that will overwhelm and overpower them.
Matthew 18:8-9 teaches us the principle of Radical Amputation. As adults, if there is anything in our lives that is causing spiritual, emotional, or physical harm… We must be willing to amputate that “thing” from our life. Because our children are immature in their decision-making process, there are times that we must perform that necessary Radical Amputation for them. We must never their allow short-term discomfort, or anger toward us, to thwart us from protecting them from soul-crushing and sometimes, life-altering harm.
Bullying has been around as long as there have been humans. However, bullying has taken on a new and sinister aspect. Once upon a time, a bullied child could find sanctuary in his own home. Once behind closed doors, bullies lacked the ability and the access to continue their harassment.
Home meant safety, security, and a respite from the attacks.
Social media has changed that dynamic. Now Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, apps like ‘Ask Me,’ and even cellphones have opened the door to continual and relentless bullying. These privileges have taken on the label of necessities for our children and parents hesitate to take away social media access, too often, with devastating results.
Sensitivity training in the schools has failed us. Lectures and films intended to stop bullying and promote tolerance have only led to more of those same behaviors. Character training, which addresses heart attitudes such as compassion, and respect, and consideration, and courage, and honesty, has been set aside in favor of pandering to this culture’s social agenda.
The experiment has been a failure. No school can teach what isn’t being taught, practiced, and required at home. So again, we find ourselves asking the question… Where are the parents?
Wake-up calls, like the news out of Florida today, must become the catalyst for change in our culture. We need to empower and equip parents to teach and hold their children to the highest standards of character. We need to remind parents that, yes, they will be held accountable for their children’s choices. We need to provide the resources, training, and encouragement that will embolden parents to Be The Parent.
The time is now. We can’t afford to lose any more children to the hopelessness of suicide or the escapism of drugs, alcohol, or destructive relationships. We need to erase the “Where were the parents?”question and replace it with a bold and courageous affirmation.
“We are here, We are engaged, and We, Are Your Parents.”
With love for those precious dreamers,